Tuesday 30 August 2011

Continuing progress

Last week we dismantled the stone furniture over No 2 stone, the French burr. Today we cleaned inside and around the stone, hoovering up all the woodworking debris. We fixed triangular fillets of wood inside the base of the tun to fill the dead spaces alongside the vertical corner timbers where flour could accumulate undisturbed. Then we reassembled the tun and the stone furniture.
The picture shows a top view of the top of the tun, with the horse (the frame which carries the grain delivery system), and the shoe (down which the grain runs from the hopper to the hole above the stone). The cord which controls the angle of the shoe, and the ash spring which restores the shoe to position when jogged by the damsel can also be seen, though the cord joining the spring to the shoe is not visible. The damsel has not yet been fitted.

View of the stone furniture
showing the hopper refitted

We then refitted the hopper and covered the hole in the top of the tun to prevent dirt getting in. We also made further progress with the flour chute.

We are starting to plan for construction of a vermin-proof grain storage box. We also wondered whether we could adapt the sack hoist to give a mechanical advantage when used with manual power. At present it is useless as it has no means of connecting to the machinery, and therefore cannot use water power to lift material.

Yesterday, Bank Holiday Monday, we were visited by Duncan Hutt and his family. Duncan is currently a member of the North East Mills Group, but was formerly further West and took part in the restoration of our mill in the 1990s. In particular he recalled the construction of the launder - done in a very much of a rush to meet a deadline, and not surprising it needs re-building. He also noted that the people responsible for the major part of the restoration were building, rather than milling, experts. In any case, the mill was restored as a static exhibit. This confirms the view that we had formed on the basis that parts of the machine (bedstones, stone nuts etc) had been restored in a position in which they could not possibly work!

Tuesday 23 August 2011

We grind exceeding slow...

The shoe with magnet assembly
Another Tuesday and some more "finishing off" jobs, preparing for milling. We completed the magnet assembly intended to remove bits of metal from the grain before milling. The magnets are on a bracket that is adjustable for height above the shoe, from about 8mm to 20mm. The piece of plywood they are attached to is simply removed from its slot for cleaning.

We also took all the stone furniture apart again so that we could vacuum clean inside, add a few finishing touches, and stain the bits that haven't already been done. Ray is going to make some triangular fillets to fit beside the uprights in the base of the tun to avoid dead spaces that could trap flour.

Ray measures up for the flour chute

We also started to make the parts for the flour chute - some more complicated angles to cut!

On the trip last weekend we tried asking other millers about the SPAB instruction to paint all wooden parts that contact the flour with shellac. This was met with mirth and incredulity - basically, flour would scour it off in no time. No-one seems to do it, and no-one can see what is the health hazard of clean wood.

Saturday 20 August 2011

North West Mills Group Outing

The Eskdale drying floor

The stone and grain feed

Today Bob and Glenis, Richard and Sylvia joined about a dozen other members of the North West Mills Group in a visit to Eskdale Mill, Boot and Muncaster Mill. There was also a nice ride on La'al Ratty (The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway) between the two mills.

The tentering at Eskdale mill

At Eskdale Dave King, the miller, very helpfully showed us round and described some of the amazing collection of antiquities on display - more a folk museum than just a mill! The mill technology seems truly ancient, for example, the tentering method being completely different from what we have at Acorn Bank. The stone bearing is supported on the centre of a large beam, which is supported at one end on the centre of another beam, one end of which is controlled by the tentering adjustment. The stone nut is driven directly from the pit wheel, there being no wallower or spur wheel.

The divided launder
This mill is open to the public and has its own website,
www.eskdalemill.co.uk/. Both the mills we visited have intact drying kiln floors, something of which we were very envious.
We were also interested in the way the water flow in the launder was split between the two wheels, as this was similar to the way we imagined it must have happened at Acorn Bank. This might become important if we ever get round to restoring our second wheel.

Richard inspects the bearings
at Muncaster
After a pleasant ride on the railway in the sunshine down to Muncaster, Bob and Christine Hoye-Turner, the owners of Muncaster Mill, made us very welcome. The mill is not normally open to the public these days, as it is their home, but they are prepared to show interested pre-booked groups round. I recall visiting it from the railway and buying flour 20-odd years ago. Bob is committed to not harming the historic mill machinery, but it was sad to see it lying idle, and one cannot help but worry for its future. Again we were shown round the mill, and were treated to a splendid spread of tea and cakes made by Christine.

By the time we got on the train back to Boot, it was raining so the journey was less pleasant! However, overall an interesting and enjoyable day - thanks to Margaret Croker who organised it on behalf of NWMG, to Dave King, and to the Hoye-Turners.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Working on the details

Having done all the big construction jobs, progress appears to slow down while we complete the details that will enable us to mill for the first time.

The spring and cords attached to the shoe

Today we made and fixed a rigid metal pointer to indicate on the tentering rod how far the stones are separated. We made a spring from a thin piece of ash which pulls a string to return the shoe when the damsel pushes it. A cord holds the shoe at an adjustable angle to regulate flow. We have installed a shutter on the hopper outlet to control grain flow and Richard has made a neat screw control for it.

The hopper outlet shutter and screw control

We also began to make an adjustable carrier to hold magnets above the shoe to remove any bits of metal mixed in with the grain.